England's senior team finished their season's work with a routine win against Andorra on
Wednesday, the Under-21s were preparing for a tougher test.
begin their assault on the European Championship next week, an event that is
bigger than ever in terms of media coverage and the increased connection
between the U21s and the senior side.
I played with the U21s we were just the kids at the back of the plane while the
full squad were up front. Not any more. If the young players do well they can
really stake a claim to move into the full squad, especially with the press
watching a tournament like this. It is a major opportunity.
warmed up with a 7-0 win against Azerbaijan on Monday, and I think
they dealt better with weak opposition than the full squad. They were not
prepared to sit back once they went one up, and there were some unlikely
goalscorers like Jack Rodwell and Kieran Gibbs, showing the attacking thread
throughout the squad.
are only eight teams in the finals in Sweden, so you have to say we are a
threat. I just hope we can mix it technically with the likes of Spain and Italy.
Milner and Theo Walcott are set to join up having been with the big boys, but I'm not sure we will necessarily benefit from their
present England U21 side play with good short passing and movement, and Walcott
doesn't really fit into that style
of play. His pace suits a more direct approach, running onto longer balls over
terms of pure crossing ability, I don't
think he can match the likes of Kieran Gibbs, Adam Johnson or Craig Gardner.
need more than just pace in international football, and although Walcott has
shown flashes of his ability - primarily in the superb hat-trick against Croatia - he
has not put together a consistent run either for club or country.
Capello is an uncompromising man, and I think Walcott could find himself given
the cold shoulder before long. He looks nice with his facial hair and his
earrings, but he should put those back in the jewellery box and knuckle down.
the plus side, I think Gibbs looks like a real find, and his ability to play
either at left-back or on the left wing is another big positive.
can see him making the leap to the senior squad along with Michael Mancienne,
who just needs to get some regular first-team football under his belt.
Carlo Ancelotti likes the look of him and wants to put him into the first-team,
Mancienne really needs to secure a loan to a good Premier League side or else
Gibbs and Mancienne have a real shot at going to the 2010 World Cup as long as
they get the opportunities at club level. But Walcott? I'm
not so sure.